Tag Archive | Donna Summer

Recommended Listening: American Hustle Soundtrack

American Hustle Album Artwork

Have you seen American Hustle yet? It is the best movie, about a story that happened during my favorite decade: the 1970s. The Seventies were a time of amazing visual stye in everything from furniture design to fashion, but it was also the decade of the best music ever. Just think about it: the worldwide phenomena that was Disco book-ended by The Beatles and Punk Rock. Wow. Mind blowing. It all happened in The Seventies!

It stands to reason then that American Hustle’s Original Motion Picture Soundtrack would be liberally studded with some serious seventies musical gems. There is something for every musical taste on this disc, from big band action courtesy of Duke Ellington’s “Jeep’s Blues” to timeless classic rock (Elton John’s “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road”), to an original instrumental track by veteran soundtrack composer, Danny Elfman. There may not be any Beatles’ songs on here, but Paul McCartney (the world’s first Billionaire Rock Star) makes an appearance with his post-Beatle’s band, Wings, delivering the epic spy film theme song, “Live and Let Die.”

Not unexpectedly, revisiting songs that I first heard when I was a pre-teen music snob has inspired me to have a bit of an epiphany. America’s mega-hit from 1972, “A Horse With No Name” was dismissed by me at the time of its release as a Neil Young rip off full of lyrical nonsense. But in a modern day context, the part where the narrator is “looking at a riverbed” and reflecting that, “The story it told / of a river that flowed/ made me sad to think it was dead” is positively sobering. Because remember: he’s in the desert. This song is genius.

Of course, it would not be a full-on 70s experience without some crotch grabbing disco fun, and Music Supervisor Susan Jacobs hits it out of the park by including Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love” — a song that says more about the pervasive hedonism of Disco culture with just three words and a wildly hypnotic, insistent electronic beat than any other song ever has. And while I was originally bummed that the included performance of “Don’t Leave Me This Way” is by Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes rather that the classic Thelma Houston version, I got over it pretty quickly.

Speaking of covers, I very much enjoy the faithful-to-the-original arrangement of Jefferson Airplane’s classic “White Rabbit” sung in Arabic by vocalist Mayssa Karaa.

But the song which has unarguably received the biggest shot in the arm for its inclusion in the film is Electric Light Orchestra’s prophetic and compelling “10538 Overture,” which has probably been downloaded a hundred times since you started reading this review. I can’t believe I have survived for forty years without having this song at my finger tipis to replay over and over and over again. Seriously, this song is just insane. ELO appear again with “Long Black Road” and vocalist Jeff Lynne also contributes “Stream Of Stars,” a previously unreleased instrumental track that just takes its own little journey to the center of your heart in under three minutes.

Tom Jones, Jack Jones and Chris Stills (son of Stephen Stills, providing the only song not actually written and previously recorded in the seventies) round out this A+ collection of songs that rank as a must own album for any music fan.

American Hustle – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack, Track Listing:

1.    Jeep’s Blues | Duke Ellington

2.    Goodbye Yellow Brick Road | Elton John

3.    White Rabbit | Mayssa Karaa

4.    10538 Overture | Electric Light Orchestra

5.    Live And Let Die | Wings

6.    How Can You Mend A Broken Heart | Bee Gees

7.    I Feel Love | Donna Summer

8.    Don’t Leave Me This Way | Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes

9.    Delilah | Tom Jones

10.  I’ve Got Your Number | Jack Jones

11.  Long Black Road | Electric Light Orchestra

12.  A Horse With No Name | America

13.  Stream Of Stars | Jeff Lynne

14.  Live To Live  | Chris Stills

15.  Irving Montage | Danny Elfman

RIP, Donna Summer

Donna Summer Classic
Someone Left the Cake Out In The Rain

Disco legend Donna Summer has passed away today, May 17th, 2012, after a brief battle with Lung Cancer. She was 63 years old. Favorite Donna Summer Songs: “On The Radio” and “MacArthur Park Suite.”

MacArthur’s Park is Melting in The Dark

A Cake in the Rain
Image Source

Holy shit. I was just in the local bodega buying a bottle of dish washing liquid and a housewarming gift for some friends I’m visiting later (pot holder / oven mitt / dish towel set – so cute!) and Donna Summer’s extended disco dance mix of “MacArthur Park.” came on. And I almost lost my shit right in there the store, because that song is just insane. You know, it’s Donna’s version that goes on for, like, 20 minutes and just takes off on its own little journey? Hot damn, what a great fucking song.

When I was a kid in the ’60s, listening to Richard Harris’s overwrought, melodramatic version of this arguably enigmatic song, I thought the lyrics were meant to be taken literally, and I could not comprehend why the fuck someone would leave a fucking cake out in the rain. I mean, what the hell? It used to just kill me; wondering why the person singing had left what must have obviously been a very delicious cake (hence the degree of chagrin this act caused) out in the rain? And why would they “never have that recipe again”? What did it all mean, and why did it feel like the world was ending over some fancy pastry every time he sang that line? Even back then, I was a big fan of cake, so “MacArthur Park” never failed to cause me significant emotional distress. Because, anyone can see that cake left out in the rain is bad news.

Of course, now that I’ve lived life to adulthood, and had the opportunity to have my heart stomped on and ground into tiny pieces of detritus, I understand that the lyrics to “MacArthur Park” are a metaphor for tragically lost love. It’s a sad song, for sure.

Even now, I would still rather have the cake.